This article originally appeared in VICE Canada
Homework sucks and studying for tests is impossible! Nevermind the time and labour that feels so hard to carve out of a social high school calendar. The hurdles you have to overcome just to refocus teenage brain power otherwise needed for true passions like video games, celeb crushes or busting Yeezys just to memorize facts about mitochondria seem insurmountable. But what if the rules of the universe were busted open and you didn't blow off your homework to hang with your buds? What if instead of watching hours of TV way past your bedtime, you begged your parents to stay up late so that you could… study? This might be the case if doing homework was your teenage passion—and it is for the students who run studygrams.
Studygrams are pristine photos of study notes posted online, proving once again that Instagram can alleviate any pain—even the kind from homework—from monotonous daily life. Teens from all over the world share artful bio notes, neat weekly schedules,
Not all studygrammers have the same goals. Some love making their school notes beautiful so that they're less boring, for others it's a hobby, and many of them make how-to videos and coloured pen swatches that can help anyone with procrastination. Natalie (@mochistudies), a 16-year old design student from Singapore who has 35.4k followers, says the appeal can simply be chalked up to "neat handwriting, eye catching headers and drawings, and a nice colour scheme." While for Abby Santana (@abby.studies), a 22-year-old college student from the Dominican Republic, the community is all about interacting with people who are going through the same thing as you in school or otherwise. "Most accounts post content about a variety of methods on how to make the learning process the best it can be," she says.
Unlike some Instagram communities, like the makeup one which has many corporate sponsors or the slime one which is basically an underground trading ring more intricate than the drug industry, the #studygram community seems to profit off of personal success. Many students like Yan (@ohlookimstudying), a 17-year old student from Malaysia with 16.2k followers, aren't even interested in making money from it.
"My goal for this accounts was never to make money or get this many followers! Running it has just made me a much more positive person and I don't see the need to make money from it," he says. And for the runner of the popular account @emmastudies with 139k followers, 20-year-old Emma says posting studygrams has changed her habits entirely. "It has changed my perspective towards education and studying completely. I am much more dedicated and appreciative towards learning since I began running my Instagram," says the communications major from Australia.
The studygrammers' rebellious community of choice is on the docile end of the teenage angst spectrum–unlike slime bartering–but the sacred rule of not telling your parents the details of your life still stands. David (@woahstudying) a 17-year old high school student in Texas says, "I haven't told my parents or my teachers about my account because I'm not really the type to socialize with them." Natalie (@mochistudies) agrees that she would never tell any IRL adults about her account. "I'm just not comfortable sharing my work and posts with my parents. I'm not sure why!" she says. The high schoolers also adhered to the rule of being a little defensive and generally unclear when interrogated about their secrets. I respected their boundaries.
The studygram community is a universal celebration of colour coded notepads, but the major accounts seem to all write in English so I was surprised about how international it really is. Yu Ke (@literaturs), a 17-year old student from Singapore says, "Chinese is my first language but I use English since it's a universal language on the internet."
Studygrams are not just for one kind of student or person, which makes them perfect (and neatly handwritten) love letters to a rare positive side of the internet. "I think everyone needs the inspiration to do something they find hard to do. When something tedious, like making notes for school, is beautified it makes the process more fun. You don't see it as hard work anymore, it's more like a piece of art," says Abby. They aren't just like any trend, the studygram community uses a teen-run engine to resonate with people who need motivation for productivity—everyone! Maybe if doing taxes and being a nice person become teen trends on Instagram, we'll all be better for it. Until then, by helping us colour code and plan out our to-do lists, the young people of the internet have done their part in making the world a little bit better, just by doing their homework.
Follow Celeste Yim on Twitter.